By Ken Reed
California legislators recently introduced a bill that would ban tackle football before high school.
The bill, called the “Safe Youth Football Act,” will be considered this year by state lawmakers.
“The science is clear: head injuries sustained at a young age can harm kids for the rest of their lives,” Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) said in a statement.
“Developing skills through flag football before high school is sound public policy from a health and safety standpoint.”
Editorials in the Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News, and the San Diego Union Tribune have all supported the bill.
However, as expected, a lot of opposition to the bill has also surfaced.
A group called SaveCaliforniaFootball quickly formed when news of the bill came out. Moreover, an online petition opposing the bill collected more than 30,000 signatures in a little more than three days.
These opponents might be facing a losing battle, however.
A recent poll revealed that four out of five adults in the United States believe tackle football is not appropriate for children under age 14.
The Concussion Legacy Foundation “strongly recommends” that parents delay signing up their children to play tackle football until at least age 14. The Foundation says head impacts are more dangerous for children than they are for adults for two reasons: 1) children under the age of 14 have brains that undergo dramatic changes and maturation; and 2) the bobblehead effect; children have smaller, weaker necks and “proportionally giant, heavy heads,” a combination that leads to a whiplash effect upon impact.
Pro Football Hall of Fame Coach and Broadcaster John Madden agrees with the move away from tackle football for youth players.
“They don’t need a helmet,” says Madden.
“They can play flag football. And with flag football you can get all the techniques. Why do we have to start with a 6-year-old who was just potty trained a year ago and put a helmet on him and tackle?”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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